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Phoenix over Heimdall Crater, - a signature image in space exploration
Guest_Oersted_*
post May 28 2008, 07:03 PM
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Rob Manning of EDL fame wrote this in another thread, which was closed, so I couldn't reply in there. Anyway, I think that this image surely deserves a thread of its own.

QUOTE (MarsEngineer @ May 28 2008, 07:09 AM) *
Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. When my LMA friends, Wayne, Tim P and Tim G suggested that I seriously look into taking the Phoenix descent image, I had to push it. They were right on many levels. I am embarrassed to say that I never once looked into what we might see in the background as MRO/HiRISE scanned over the landing ellipse. We had the viewing geometry at our figure tips but we did not look. In fact we did not look at the wide shot with Heimdall in the background until late on Sol 1. I saw the image late yesterday and, like many people who see it the first time, I though it was a fake. A couple of minutes later I had it on my laptop in an email attachment from the HiRISE team. I had been so focused on whether the image would reveal sufficient parachute fault data (and earlier on whether it would result in a risk to MRO's UHF data collection during entry) that I failed to imagine the big picture. Maybe I couldn't.


Rob, it will become one of the signature images of space exploration.

Up there with
Apollo 8 Earthrise,
The Pillars of Creation, and
Pantheon, Earth and Moon.
...(just kidding about the last one, I took it of the oculus of the Pantheon in Rome laugh.gif )

What a wonderful story this is. Despite the meticulous planning that went into the HiRise shot, despite the effort of tracking, slewing, yawing and whatnot of the MRO, despite all of that, serendipity took you all on a crazy roller-coaster ride of discovery and threw in this awe-inspiring background by complete chance!

Part of what defines a great photo is the framing. And what do you know: ALL of Heimdal crater is included in the shot! - How perfect is that? - Had it been cropped, the image would still have been fantastic, just for the engineering effort that went into it and for capturing Phoenix. With the whole crater included it moves from engineering excellence to a Work of Art. Perfect framing, and perfect 16:9 aspect ratio for that Hi-definition viewing experience smile.gif . It is an image that will make for great big-size poster art, so that it won't be marred by the close-up box in the corner, which must go away, just for the sake of beauty.

Part of what defines a great photo is timing, and as a result of that, composition. Henri Cartier-Bresson was the acknowledged master ("Man Jumping Over Puddle"). Again, you guys painstakingly did all you could to assure that HiRise would capture the right instant. But AGAIN serendipity totally took over and delivered perfect composition! - Little Phoenix could NOT have been placed better against the backdrop of the crater: with the crater's edge drawing an ellipse, the lander is almost exactly in the left-most focus point, with an uncluttered background and in perfect counterpoint to the more feature-rich right-side of the crater bowl.

In my country we have a saying that goes more or less like this: you have to strive for it, if you want to get lucky. The group behind "Phoenix over Heimdall crater" certainly got lucky, but you ONLY got lucky because you strived for this shot. You worked hard and intelligently, and for that Mother Nature rewarded you MORE than handsomely.

This picture will be there when we are all gone (my take on how to present it):



Poster-size version here
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As old as Voyage...
post May 28 2008, 08:13 PM
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It is a truley breathtaking image and composition.

Reminds me of Lunar Orbiter frame 162 http://www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/lunarorbiter/frame/?2162

Another image whose beauty is mostly fortuitous.

Perhaps Phoenix, Backshell and Parachute against Heimdall will be the 'Picture of the century' for our time.


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kenny
post May 28 2008, 08:16 PM
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Agreed, it is an utterly iconic image.

However, the extremely high definition, large image size and miniature nature of the spacecraft image against the enormity of the crater, does raise portrayal issues. Unlike Apollo 8 moonrise, put the Phoenix image in a magazine full page spread, cropped to the width of Heimdall plus a bit more, and the average reader won't see the spacecraft. Most of us still haven't seen it without the blown-up sub-image showing the chute in the corner. Its scale is most unlike any other iconic space image -- if you want to show the enormous context of the whole of Heimdall.

So how this image will be shown in future, to best display its awesomeness, is a real issue. Maybe an entire wall in the Air & Space Museum?
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As old as Voyage...
post May 28 2008, 08:31 PM
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Blown up to huge proportions it would be stunning.

I think the image could pose reproduction problems in print but overall the small size and apparent fragility of the descending spacecraft really compliments the yawning maw of Heimdall.

Its like when you look at the famous Apollo 17 image of Jack Schmitt with the Split Rock on the South Massif, think its amazing and then spy the tiny glint of Lunar Module Challenger sitting lonely out on the valley floor.

Gives an image such perspective.


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It's a funny old world - A man's lucky if he gets out of it alive. - W.C. Fields.
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Guest_Oersted_*
post May 28 2008, 08:35 PM
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It is a particuliarity about the image that the "center of interest" is utterly small, but I prefer to think of it as a strength rather than a problem. It tells a story about the small size of the man-made object vs. the enormity of an entire planet. What a way to visualize that!

I would think that a 300dpi glossy magazine spread would be sufficient to show the image without a box. There's practically no detail to Phoenix even in full-size, so not much is lost when it is just apparent as two small, spindly dots. Present-day computer screens don't hack it, that's for sure, but future screens might.

No, what this image is made for is poster art: a huge big wonderful crater, and then this little white smudge that tells such a wondrous story.

We have to get rid of the abomination of the blow-up box, that is for sure. It is good engineering, but not good art smile.gif I'm sure the image wizards here on UMSF can do something nice to the image, as Astrosurf has already done. If you really can't just show the original image for technical reasons, then maybe a black edge around the original image, and then a much smaller image box centered in the black edge below the big image, with a close-up of Phoenix.
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paxdan
post May 28 2008, 08:40 PM
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i'd like to see a video with a zoom in, ending on the full res parachute image.
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Guest_Oersted_*
post May 28 2008, 09:11 PM
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BTW, for those who don't know: Heimdall is a God of the Nordic Pantheon, one of a merry band that include Thor, Odin (Wotan), Loki, etc. Heimdall is the Guardian of the bridge from the land of human beings to the land of the Gods. The bridge was called Bifrost and do you know what it is? - The rainbow! - Isn't that a nice piece of mythology? - The rainbow being a bridge to the land of the Gods. Heimdall rode a chariot and had magnificent senses: he could hear the grass grow, see to the end of the world.

I'm sure our house UMSF poets can work wonders with that and the Bird rising from the Ashes smile.gif

Here is a drawing of Heimdal (as we prefer to spell his name in Denmark) as he appears in a great series of comic books about the Nordic Gods by Peter Madsen. The series is called Valhalla (Castle of the Gods):

http://www.petermadsen.info/pages/vh/hv-er-hv/heimdal.html

This is cartoon based on the comic book series, for kids it is a great way of getting to know the Nordic Pantheon:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_quer...mp;search_type=
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GuyMac
post May 28 2008, 09:48 PM
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One of the Tucson newspapers, the Arizona Daily Star, has it above the fold in today's issue.
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PFK
post May 28 2008, 09:59 PM
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QUOTE (Oersted @ May 28 2008, 08:03 PM) *
Rob, it will become one of the signature images of space exploration

Quite so; and as I mention in the other thread
http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=5173
it really should be able to be used as a massively inspirational educational tool. After all, just show a full scale blow up of that, explain exactly what it is and what is going on, and then you can branch off to just about any aspect of science you want - let's face it, you can link everything from chemistry to physics to geology to engineering to, well, you name it! You can even factor in the aesthetics of it and the history of science fiction literature etc etc etc.
I was about to say it's worth its weight in gold, but then I'm not sure how that would be quantified in the digital age rolleyes.gif
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TheChemist
post May 28 2008, 10:52 PM
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This image most surely needs a warning note though. Something like :

"ATTENTION: view at your own risk. Might result in permanent jaw damage."
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nprev
post May 28 2008, 11:10 PM
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It's a bit hard to describe what this image really signifies when considering how far we've come in such a brief period.

All I know is that it makes me proud to be a human being, and so happy to be alive at this point in history. This simple picture of a speck of our ingenuity blasting through the atmosphere of an alien world iconically represents the best within us.


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A few will take this knowledge and use this power of a dream realized as a force for change, an impetus for further discovery to make less ancient dreams real.
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SpaceListener
post May 29 2008, 12:12 AM
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At the first, the mentioned picture has scared me since due to its optical illusion that Phoenix was falling into a very beautiful crater in fact that it has a very nice concave bowl! Later, after studying and analyzing the picture, my reaction has changed to start in thinking that the nature close to a very tiny Phoenix spacecraft is of a great beauty.
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nprev
post May 29 2008, 12:19 AM
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True...makes you think of the awesome vistas that must exist on Mars, even from orbit. There are so many craters just like Heimdall; imagine standing on its rim and hearing a faint sonic boom through your helmet as Phoenix made its passage!


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rlorenz
post May 29 2008, 12:27 AM
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QUOTE (nprev @ May 28 2008, 08:19 PM) *
True...makes you think of the awesome vistas that must exist on Mars, even from orbit. There are so many craters just like Heimdall; imagine standing on its rim and hearing a faint sonic boom through your helmet as Phoenix made its passage!


Also makes you wonder what MARDI would have seen if it had been taking images during descent. And
also calls into question whether you'd not also want side-looking, rather than just down-looking, images
during descent...
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nprev
post May 29 2008, 01:04 AM
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QUOTE (rlorenz @ May 28 2008, 05:27 PM) *
Also makes you wonder what MARDI would have seen if it had been taking images during descent.


(Sigh)...yes. I am certain that MSL will make up for this loss, and then some.

Somehow, I knew you had poetry in your soul, Ralph! smile.gif


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